Sunday, June 14, 2015

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 14: A Song No One Would Expect You To Love

I suspect today's will be the most difficult prompt of the month, because it requires me to step outside of myself and try to think about what others think about what I think about music. Others know that I think a lot about music, so what I really have to consider is what others think about me, my tastes, my prejudices and biases, even my own image of myself as a music-lover. Meta-meta post here, for sure.

Of course, no one who has read my music posts over the years would expect me to love a Celtic song, or death-metal song, or an experimental jazz song, all of which fall within genres of music that I don't like and don't listen to.  I won't be upsetting those expectations today.  And even though there are specific artists/bands within my preferred genres about whom I have made my dislike clear-- Taylor Swift, The Doors, etc-- it would be a stretch to say that no one would expect me to love at least one of their songs.

For my pick today, I'm going to extrapolate a bit from the prompt and think about the community of music-lovers in which I move, about what I "expect" from them and vice versa. Communities are, of course, defined by the values, principles and tastes shared in common by their members.  When I think about my own "music community," I find that it is comprised of three, in many cases overlapping, types of people: (1) actual musicians, i.e., those who sing, play an instrument, compose, mix or produce, (2) music theorists, and (3) music fans/lovers, e.g. those who may or may not perform or theorize about music, but whose personal identity is in some substantive way shaped by the music they listen to and love.

First, an anecdote. Just a couple of days ago on Day 12 of this Challenge ("a song from a band you hate"), one of my friends (Michael Norton) who is playing along with me on Facebook picked The Eagles' song "Hotel California."  I commented on his pick: "I have to say that I honestly don't get people's hatred of The Eagles. Just. Don't. Get. It." To which Michael replied: "Whereas I just don't get people's love of them. At all." To which I was incredulous.  C'mon Michael, I thought to myself, you don't get why someone would love The Eagles at all?! I hate The Doors, and libertarianism, and brussel sprouts... but I can "get" the reasons why people like them, foreign to my own sensibilities and tastes as they may be.

And then it occurred to me: I actually have a lot of friends who hate The Eagles and who do not get at all why anyone would like them.  Friends who I otherwise would count as members of my "music community" and who I suspect would be surprised to learn that I not only like, but really love, The Eagles. That not everyone in my music community loves The Eagles is something that falls squarely within my normal expectations.  But that so many of them hate The Eagles is something that I wouldn't expect-- well, not until recently, when I started taking note of it-- and so it stands to reason, mutatis mutandis, that they may not expect the opposite of me.

For that reason, I'm picking an Eagles' song today that I really love, their 1973 "Lyin' Eyes."  Here it is:

This is, hands down, my favorite Eagles' song.  It's tells a truly epic sad story and packs in a ton of those simple and straightforwardly stated truths that I love in epic sad stories.  City girls just seem to find out early how to open doors with just a smile.  True.  I guess every form of refuge has its price.  True.  Ain't it funny how your new life didn't change things?  Yep.  There ain't no way to hide your lyin' eyes.  God, yes.

I love this song.

One last thing on this whole departing-from-the-norms-of-your-community theme: there have been several occasions over the years when friends of mine have recommended to me a band/artist that they were positive I would love, but I did not.  (I cannot tell you how many people have given me Meshell Ndegeocello albums. #thanksbutnothanks) And I'm always deeply surprised/disappointed when I miss the mark of my friends' musical tastes in my recommendations to them. To me, it feels like a more serious transgression when you give one of your beloved albums/tracks to a friend and they don't like it than when you discover that they like something you didn't expect they would. Maybe that's because I take it for granted that the tastes represented in my music community are broad and diverse. I'm not all that surprised when my friends like music I don't like, nor am I surprised when they dislike things I like, but when they dislike things I expect them to love, or vice versa, it feels like a real, significant misjudgment of character has been made.

That is to say, my experience of my own music community inclines me far more often to say something like "HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THIS?!" (in all caps) and hardly ever "how can you possibly love that?" or "how can you not hate this?".  I'm glad to have been given pause to think about this today, and reassured to find that in my music community-- as I think is also true in my moral and political communities-- I'm much more concerned with, and feel a much stronger bond as a consequence of, what my friends are for rather than what they're against.

Click here to return to the 30 Day Song Challenge 2015 home.


michael.n said...

I actually reflected on the "at all" part of my comment after I wrote it, asking myself if I was just being hyperbolic or if I really meant it. And I think I stand by it. I mean, I can get it if you have some kind of association with them (like, my friend Vicky saying that the Eagles remind her of her dad... though that begs the question, why does her dad like them?). But even within their own genre (which I don't like, but I understand that and why some do), it just seems to me that they're a mediocre example at best. So I guess I could understand why people like them, but not why people love them, even though many, many people seem to.

(Also, really not a fan of their extreme litigiousness. Give it up, Don, you're already rich.)

Leigh M. Johnson said...

@Michael: First, totally agree on the "give it up, Don" remark.

I've been trying since yesterday to find a band/artist that I might say the same about ("I don't get how ppl coould love them AT ALL"). but I think I can only say that of genres. Celtic music. Q.E.D.